Lessons from the Field, News

Lancaster Goes with Municipal Broadband, Revolutionizes City Services

The city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania is teaming up with MAW Communications to install the city’s municipal broadband network. The agreement and network model will be the first of its kind in the state of Pennsylvania.

For eighteen years MAW Communications has served educational institutions, local government and telecommunication carriers as a Pennsylvania Public Utility. The company boasts 1,500 strands of fiber in and around its headquarters in the Greater Reading Area. MAW’s network is founded upon reliability. On it’s website they claim that, “Many of our critical services have never been down due to equipment or network failures. Reliability is designed into every aspect of our Telecommunication Services.”

The network will be constructed in phases over the next year and half. The initial phases will install Secure Wifi Access Points across the city that will make free wifi internet access available in public spaces at speeds of up to 300 million bits second. In addition to the free wifi access points MAW will install over one thousand miles of fiber optic facilities to two thirds of the city’s residents, businesses, educational and healthcare institutions. Later phases will expand the network to the remaining one third.

Since its preregistration announcement one month ago nearly 1,000 people have preregistered for the city’s new network and 600 have applied to be early adopters. The early adopter program is an ideal way for the company to gain feedback on its service while also providing residents with free installation and three months of free service in order to test it out.

The network will cost the city of Lancaster $500,000 for installation, but its benefits are expected to far outweigh the costs. The fiber-optic network will aim to improve city services before expanding to residential service next year. The city is installing transmitters on water meters so that they can be read remotely saving the city anywhere between $170,000 and $200,000 a year. Meters will also be able to be read more frequently, promising to detect leaks earlier and saving the city thousands in damages. The network will also help with remote traffic signal control in order to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety, reduce the cost of maintaining its safety camera network infrastructure, improve data sharing, record archiving, and city information resources, and it will provide a secure network for law enforcement, among other city operations and services.

The new municipal network will provide connection speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second—a drastic improvement for the city that boasts a current “high speed” download of 20 megabits per second. Lancaster is about to experience Internet speed it did not even know existed!

Municipal broadband offers more than just faster Internet—it could revolutionize a city’s operations, saving them thousands of dollars that can then be directed to other necessities. With this new network coming into the city of Lancaster, the sky seems the limit!

Leave a Reply